“Have you considered my son?”
“Your son is worthless. He will have no use in my service.”
“No use? He is a virtuoso for his age at playing the flute. He sounds like nightingales in love, believe me, my wife and I stare out at the stars sometimes and we lose ourselves while he plays.”
“What else does he do?”
“The boy cooks and cleans…he hardly talks, he is a fast learner.”
“Does he do well with violence?” He grunted as he dropped to one knee observing the child from a distance and twisting his mustache, unaware of his thumb resting on the butt of his sword. The slobbering Saluki rested at his feet loyal and poised. “Is he…afraid of a little blood?”
“Our boy…well, he is a pleasant creature, Lord. We don’t believe he was designed for that sort of thing; he is, shall we say, soft-hearted and quiet–not given to wrath. The arts…nature…these things are more what interest him. And the love he has for animals is extraordinary. We believe he prefers the company of them over his own family.”
“You do owe me a considerable debt.”
“Yes, Lord,” they uttered almost in unison. Staring at the ground humbly, the wife teary-eyed as she gazed upon her bleeding and dusty feet; the husband biting his lip and tasting the blood that tasted so very much like anger and shame and loathing.
The sun was a gargantuan bloody spinning sphere with promises of death and drought and famine. Brush strokes of burnt-orange and hues of hellish honeydew hallmarked the cosmic glowing, gleaming helm. In the distance were a multitude of trees appearing as hands reaching upwards–paused forever to be bleached by the sun, to be eaten slowly by its rays, to be ignored by the breathing world in a quiet and paused pandemonium.
“Call the quiet child hither, I would like a word with him. Let us see if he was born with fear in his heart,” He bellowed as he stood on both feet and grabbing his loyal dog by the collar, drew him to attention.
The boy approached quizzically and with an amiable bow pulled his flute from his back and as if nourishing the instrument, released a tender note–causing the canine to whine then whimper.
“You really are a master with that instrument, boy, your parents were right. But now we must talk like men. Your parents owe me a great debt and I am here to collect. It appears you are the only thing they can barter with. Unfortunately, I have no room nor appreciation for weak, useless things.”
“We are sorry, son, Lord Mmamon has been quite patient with us over the years. He is here for payment. Your father and I suggested he take you, but he seems convinced you are…well…too soft for his palace.”
“Listen boy, your parents lives mean nothing to me. You mean nothing to me. And quite frankly, this place is an empty nightmare. I would need to make an example of them–you would be left behind to fend for yourself. So, I need to ask you a very important question.”
“Your parents tell me you are a gentle child…perhaps too gentle. Are you afraid of violence…are you afraid to kill a living thing…do you fear the sight of blood?”
With the large man looking down at him with a searing scowl, the boy lifted the silver flute to his chin showing them their still reflection. And as a hot demonic wind whispered, he leaped and screamed with all that his little lungs allowed and crashing with every ounce of strength, his lustrous instrument cracked again and again at the skull of the yelping animal.
Lord Mmamon’s mouth slightly ajar and mustache quivering with the breeze. His parents gripping tightly each other’s hands.
The boy’s rib cage filling up generously with air as he stood up with flute in hand as it dripped in the dust with blood.
He walked away for a few seconds, stopped and slowly turned. His small mouth became a smile as he stared at the empty skies. Wiping the wind instruments on his white pants he stared at the man and said,
“All debts paid.”